The easy solution would have been to find a dairy factory that delivers ready to use, standard, uniform and unvarying milk straight to our workshop.
The raw milk and cream used in the manufacturing of Sikou ice cream are not purchased in a dairy factory and are therefore not treated as the long-term milk we know: no UHT treatment, no standardisation treatment and no homogenising by micronisation.
UHT treatment degrades most natural nutrients of milk and all the milk enzymes. Some nutrients will be partially reintroduced afterwards. You will sometimes see the following wording on your milk cartons: 'Calcium Enriched','Enriched with vitamins'… The question of durability of milk does not arise for ice cream as it is frozen.
The standardisation process extracts milk fat from the milk and then reintroduces it into a desired invariable standard amount. So we can see a constant rate of fat on milk cartons (3.5% milk fat for whole milk, half of which for semi-skimmed, etc), while the rate of fat naturally present in milk varies with the seasons and cattle feed (grass in summer, fodder in winter). At Sikou, we feel that this standardisation is not necessary. Some consider this to be a requirement of the 'average consumer’. But we do not believe in it.
The consumers easily accept a change in taste for fruit and vegetables in season compared to out of season. Why would they not understand this same change for other products such as milk and cream? As our milk and cream are not standardised, they reflect the seasons and the feeding of the cows that produce it (fodder in winter, grass in summer). At Sikou, the natural cycle of the seasons is echoed in the flavour of our ice creams. It is our choice.
Finally, the milk of Sikou is not homogenised (micronisation process which consists of bursting milk molecules by passing them under pressure in ever finer sieves). Micronisation is used to disrupt the phenomenon of milk dividing in different layers when at rest (cream, whey, water,...) and prevents us from having to shake the milk carton. This fragmentation of the milk molecules makes milk less digestible and it may cause intestinal cramping for sensitive individuals.
« Due to the absence of UHT treatment and micronisation the products are better tolerated by our bodies. Micronisation of dairy products for example, can cause intestinal cramping for some individuals. Just as we make every effort to preserve the structure of foods we definitely do not want to get involved in food chemistry. It'a all about ice cream, just with a few ingredients, the most simple and readable ones and in accordance to what nature provides.»
Dairy products, which have an interesting complexity at the origin, are damaged by these various industrial treatments. They have a limited and/or artificially reconstituted nutritional value. This is the 'price to pay' so that everyone has access to the 'milk'. At Sikou we produce with discernment. In fact, these treatments are no longer justified for a product frozen at -18°C.
Direct purchasing from the farm allows us to select our farmers for their products and the quality of their work. We personally know our farmers, we have a beer together and consequently their work has no secrets for us anymore. This is especially important for the production of ice cream as these two ingredients account for 75% in the final product. We believe that quality control is achieved more through dialogue between people who love their job than by formal checks on documents and thermometers. These formal checks are required but if it stays at that we judge them inadequate. Buying directly from the farm removes any doubt as to the origins.
Finally, our farmers make a better living with this short distribution channel than when selling their produce to dairy factories. They are also assured that their work is valued. All too often part of the Organic milk production does not find the expected distribution opportunities. The milk is then 'downgraded' and returns in the sector of conventional milk and this is rather resented by the farmers and demeaning to their work.